Two firefighters died fighting a fire that started when cars caught fire deep inside a cargo ship carrying 5,000 vehicles at a New Jersey port, Newark’s chief said Thursday.
Firefighters who responded found five to seven vehicles on fire when they arrived at the 10th floor of the cargo ship at Port Newark around 9:30 pm last Wednesday. The fire quickly reached the 11th and 12th floors, and while firefighters were sent back in the intense heat, two of them were lost, Fire Chief Rufus Jackson said at a press conference.
Firefighters were initially unable to find their colleagues and outside rescue companies from across the state were called. They were found and removed from the structure, but unfortunately their lives were lost, Jackson said.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of two Newark firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” said Gov. Phil Murphy in a statement. “This tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers our firefighters face and their incredible courage.”
Marine traffic trackers show the Grande Costa D’Avorio, built in 2011, arrived from the Port of Baltimore a few days ago.
“Two firefighters are missing today,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said at the scene. “It’s a tragedy for us in the city of Newark and a tragedy for all the firefighters who know what it means to go into a burning structure at a risk that you have to experience when you do it.”
Baraka said he saw unparalleled acts of bravery and friendship, but he called the loss traumatic for everyone in Newark. The fire was still burning as officials spoke at the news conference, but they will continue to work to put it out, Baraka said.
Fighting a ship fire is a unique skill and Newark firefighters don’t usually deal with this type of fire, Jackson said.
“Even though it’s a tough fire, a different kind of fire, they’re still willing to put themselves on the line for others,” the chief said. “This is an amazing service that we are involved in. We love what we do. We love each other and we protect each other. It’s a pity to lose. This is a tragedy. It’s something I don’t want to face as a chief, but we have to be there, we have to be strong for the family at this point.
Photo: In this photo taken from video, smoke rises from a cargo ship early Thursday, July 6, 2023, at the port of Newark, New Jersey. Two firefighters died fighting the blaze that started when cars caught fire deep inside a ship carrying 5,000 cars at the port, Newark’s fire chief said. (WABC-TV via AP)
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